The Battle against Exclusion

Social Assistance in Canada and Switzerland

Preventing hardship among those with few or no resources is no easy task. Today, institutions whose goal is to help those at the margins seek to integrate and encourage them in order to avoid social exclusion. How can social assistance best balance the adequacy of benefits with financial incentives to work? What policy measures are essential to promote independence and reduce (intergenerational) welfare dependence? What can be done to promote individual responsibility in societies where taxpayers and voters are explicitly regarded as major stakeholders in social policy? These are some of the most pressing social issues this book addresses by comparing social assistance policies in four Canadian provinces -- Alberta, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan -- and four Swiss cantons -- Graubünden, Ticino, Vaud and Zürich.

In Switzerland, few people were forced to rely on social assistance until unemployment rose sharply at the beginning of the 1990s. The authorities are now struggling with how to promote social inclusion by keeping benefit levels high whilst at the same time improving measures designed to get benefit recipients back into work. In Canada, all provinces have stressed the role of work as the best way of avoiding benefit dependency, and some provinces have also cut benefit levels and restricted access to benefits. The success of Canada in reducing social assistance benefit dependency stands out in an area of social protection where across the developed world there are remarkably few such successes.

Further reading This book is part of "The Battle against Exclusion" series, consisting of comparative studies of social assistance policies. To get a more comprehensive picture of social policies in OECD countries, please consult the first two volumes of the series, both published in 1998: the first volume covers Australia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom, and the second volume, Belgium, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Norway.

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